Valeria Gonzalez, Myself, and a candid Cintia Segovia Figueroa
WK 4 – Artist Conversation – Cintia Segovia Figueroa
Artist: Cintia Segovia Figueroa
Exhibition: Mexico Already Changed
Media: Projection, Video, Robot
Gallery: CSULB SOA Max L Gator Gallery East
This week I had a great time learning and seeing an art installation by Cintia Alejandra Segovia Figueroa. She is a Mexico City born artist who wanted to study photography against her parent’s wishes. As she puts it, her parents did not want her to “starve like an artist”. They were pushing for her to go into a field that would make her financially stable. She graduated from Tec De Monterey University in Mexico with a degree in Mass Communications. Before coming to the U.S she worked in television. When she came to the states 6 years ago, she learned English as an adult and started to pursue her teaching career. Now while attending CSULB for her masters in the School of Arts she also teaches/lectures at CSUN in photography. She is currently teaching a digital photography class with an emphasis on use of Photoshop. Her previous work “De Chile, Mole, y Dulce” which is a large photograph of individuals in a sombrero and mustache (to depict, what a Mexican is “suppose” to look like or not, was shown for a brief time at MOLAA in Long Beach.
When entering the installation; Mexico already changed; there is a projection of a black screen on the north wall. This screen projects several past Mexican presidential campaigns such as “We did it” “Upward and onwards” and “Mexico already changed”. Each slogan is presented with audio of cheerful and hopeful music, and there is a blank black screen between each slogan. On the eastern wall there is a flat screen that plays in loop a video of Cintia Segovia Figueroa. She portrays two characters; one is what seems to be a politician or news castor in a blue suit as she walks what would be reflective of a typical road in Mexico. The second character portrayed is an indigenous native of Mexico wearing a “peasant” blouse walking the same road. The video cuts from character to character as each depicts what their current and ideal future stand in Mexico’s society is. Meanwhile, roaming the gallery is a small mechanical car robot named “El Roboto” that carries a large red marker flag (perhaps as a cautionary flag) and a small Mexican flag closer to its body. The robot roams the gallery floor while stopping every few seconds and asking, in its robotic voice, questions that would be asked to those whom are entering the country. For example “are you a polygamist?”
When I listened and spoke to Cintia I got the feeling that she was a very strong, passionate and angry woman. But angry in a good way. Her installation Mexico already changed seemed to show lot of that. First, the installation as a whole is her ability to look back from where she is now and see the inequality in Mexico and in the process of coming to America. Her projection of a blank black screen with slogans sets the tone for issues in both Mexico and America. This projection is in black and has pauses in between each slogan because it represents how each slogan does not deliver. When she explained this projection idea to me, her tone even changed. She seemed to be upset but also not surprised that politics did not deliver their promises. The slogans used were “Mexico already changed” “upwards and onwards” and “we did it” amongst a few others. She explained that these were slogans that presidential campaigns used and the music is supposed to be cheerful yet brief. While talking to Cintia she mentioned that she is well aware of her privilege in her Mexican culture because of her fairly light skin. She said that her skin color opened doors for her especially in her field of work. This is represented in her video loop. The video shows two different characters that she portrays speaking about how each of them thinks they are the best representation of Mexico. The character in the blue suit talks about how proud she is to live in the city. This character dreams of moving to Florida and living a life I politics perhaps as the first lady of Mexico. She acknowledges her indigenous people but says that they themselves should stay in the fields, in the home, and tending to the house. This first charter believes this is their permeant place and should happily stay there. The second character in a “peasant” blouse says that she is very proud of her indigenous roots and is happy with her life. She represents herself as being a hard worker and satisfied to not be a city folk. This character also believes that that they (city folk) should stay where they are; far away from her because she does not like to see them. Cintia demonstrates through this video that eve in her own homeland there is a thin line of racism and economic discrimination. My favorite part of the installation was “El Roboto” the small robot car roaming around the gallery floor would stop every few feet and ask in his robotic voice questions that are asked to people trying to proceed through immigration. Cintia’s favorite question is “Are you a polygamist”. She referenced a story of her and her husband when they were going through the process and themselves were being interviewed. She said that when they asked her and her husband this question they laughed and were very surprised. Her husband then proceeded to ask the interviewer “who would actually say yes to the question?” To which the interviewer replied that they would be surprised how many people believe the power of being under oath. Cintia explains that this surprised them and made them really question what crazier things were to come in their new home. Cintia overall wanted to represent how robotic and un-personalized the process is to come to America. She says that everything from the way that questions are asked, to fingerprinting is so mechanical and not personal. She would have liked to have been asked “how are you?” or “how is your day so far” but instead she got “are you a member of the communist party”. She believes that this process is also outdated and needs to be brought into a new generation because when she was asked this she could not remember anyone being a communist, or it still being a situation during the time. The robot does a good representation of being mechanical, cold, and repetitive.
I must admit that when I walked into the installation and saw the video, the projection and even read her insert I was still very confused as to what it all meant. It really helped to have Cintia there to explain and ask questions to. Even when I heard her explanations I still had to take mini breaks to see the installation again and then come back out to hear her speak more about it, this really helped me and made me appreciate it even more. In regards to her projection on the north wall; after understanding the slogans and the color usage for it, I agreed with her. The music is very brief and the font seems briefly powerful but then that’s it; it doesn’t continue. The slogan simply moves on to the next one. I think sometimes our government whether it is locally or on a national level has made us hopeful for something but sadly not deliver. I think this is an issue that Cintia has seen in Mexico and now gets to see here as well. The video was also really good; I asked a few of my classmates to help me understand better with their interpretation of it. I finally interpreted as a form of ethnocentrism; where you believe that your culture is superior over others. I think this happens everywhere. When we don’t understand something it is very easy to belittle and shun it. It is just very sad that it happens among people of one nation. Finally; I definitely agree with her robot depiction of this immigration process. I think many things regarding immigration policies, and governments are out of date, are mechanical, and are impersonal. Overall I think Cintia did a good job of showing what discrimination she knew in Mexico and what possible concerns for her are here in the U.S. I really enjoyed her installation and I enjoyed her conversation. I got am impression of a woman who is not afraid to say what everyone is thinking and who honestly just wants equality among everyone and is not afraid to make people see things for how they are.